It is not unusual to feel stressed and overwhelmed when caring for a loved one with dementia. Caregivers of parents with dementia frequently report experiencing high levels of stress, and remember, too much stress can be harmful to the both of you. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
- Are you constantly worried?
- Are you sad?
- Are you feeling tired most of the time?
- Are you sleeping too much or too little?
- Are you becoming easily irritated or angry?
- Are you losing interest in activities you once loved?
- Are you gaining or losing a lot of weight?
- Are you having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems?
If you can answer yes to several of these questions, you are likely dealing with too much stress. Try these 7 tips to help you deal with the stress of taking care of a loved one with dementia.
7 Tips to Dealing with Caregiver Stress
- Take advantage of resources and tools available through your parent’s dementia care center. Retirement communities such as Resthaven offer several resources along with support for their client’s families. They understand better than anyone the difficult task of caring for a parent with dementia.
- Accept help. Prepare a list of ways others can help you and when they can help.
- Join a support group. People in support groups understand what you are going through. A support group can provide friendships, encouragement and problem-solving for difficult situations.
- Focus on your own social circle. Stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer emotional support and opportunities to focus on yourself and de-stress, whether that is shopping, taking a walk or going out for dinner.
- Maintain your personal health. Stay physically active, get quality sleep and eat healthy. Don’t let the stress from caregiving prevent you from living your life to the fullest!
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. It's normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a "perfect" caregiver. Know and believe you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can.
- Stay educated. Your role as the caregiver will likely change with dementia. Reach out to the professionals at your retirement community for help along the way so you can continue to manage your stress and stay healthy.
Contact an experienced coordinator at Resthaven at 616-796-3800 to learn more about the resources and support groups available to the families of Resthaven.